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Should you have any Interest in Pinterest?

Pinterest has been the the lastest shiny object for a couple of months. Maybe its the ease of use, or perhaps the visual nature of the site, but it has grown rapidly and substantial fanfare on the web. And like any new shiny objects it has had its champions and its detractors.

All of this was complicated by the business model of the site which had two unmentioned but really significant repercussions. One was the appropriation of affiliate link profits by Pinterest generated by any click through on something pinned to the site. This was a matter of some discussion, but was really not significant since most people who were busy “pinning” weren’t doing so in any anticipation of any financial return.

The second and more important issue in Pinterest’s terms of service was the liability for copyright infringement caused by any items pinned by site members. Pinterest, not unreasonably , wanted to avoid liability for any potential intellectual property litigation. They manner in which they did it created a stir. Essentially, anyone who pinned anything to Pinterest was absorbing the potential copyright issues, as well as assigning them a copyright on the “pinned” material.

According to their terms of service

“You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”

A lot of people didn’t see this coming. After all Pinterest is a site that is based around “pinning” and is set up so you can easily repin stuff. Though many of us weren’t paying attention in English class when we went to school, the people who knew the difference between “can” and “may” started dropping off of Pinterest like water off the roof in a rainstorm.

We are all more aware of intellectual property rights today than we were five or ten years ago. And as we publish and re-publish on sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ , Tumblr and others, we need know more so that we can avoid the stress of cease and desist demands and potential litigation. Especially when the owners of those copyrights aren’t happy – like many of the photographers whose work is being pinned.

In an unusual twist, Amazon , who owns the servers where Pinterest lives, has reportedly just agreed to process DCMA notices concerning infringements by Pinterest users. An article on PaidContent  quoted a site called Artists’ Bill of Right who seem to be a group of artists who have Pinterest squarely in their crosshairs.

It will be interesting to see how people balance their desire to use the site for business or pleasure against the potential downside of sharing material that you have no right to use. Its not the first time after all – YouTube and Twitter each had their own early copyright controversies, but it all worked out in the end. Under fire by a number of different sources, Pinterest may indeed change their copyright policy  to insure their continued growth, but until that time comes, people will be “pinning” at their own risk.

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Is Privacy Dead?

The Swedish actress Greta Garbo was famous for her blonde hair, sultry eyes, and the saying” I want to be alone” – a statement that was attributed to her desire for personal privacy as a celebrity.  Today, thanks to our online engagement, we all seem to be celebrities of a sort, and our personal privacy has become more of an issue than ever before.

As part of our online activities, we commonly share, photos, locations, opinions, job information, trips and much more every day.  To most consumers, transparency means more than knowing what companies are doing as part of their business process – it also means providing personal information as the price for participation in many Web 2.0 sites.

As I speak and teach around the country, the  most common reason people give me for a reluctance to participate in sites like Facebook , LinkedIn, Foursquare and Twitter is a concern that their participation means an invasion of that privacy. Recent studies bear that out showing that 6 out of 10 consumers surveyed don’t trust online companies to protect their privacy, and 1 out of three don’t believe that they can protect their privacy when they participate in online activities.

Millennials, our digital natives, have less concern over privacy, which may speak to their ease of adoption and enthusiastic participation in the online world. They are willing to opt-in to location tracking or on-line tracking, and expecting to share private information, almost half of those surveyed expected some sort of reward for providing personal information to companies on their websites.

Interestingly enough, though privacy is a concern, 61% of social; users, say they would share even more personal information if they were given better and clearer controls over their privacy settings, allowing them to choose what they want to share and who they want to share it with.

If you operate a blog or web site, knowing what people want is crucial. To help you understand how consumers feel, and what they want , a great visual was created by our friends at MDG Advertising, summarizing studies performed by Anonymizer, Harris Interactive, The Ponemon Institute, and the Consumer Institute for Citizen research.


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Teen Safety on the Internet

Usually our posts are written for small businesses and professionals, but the issue of teen cruelty and teen safety on the internet is one that deserves our attention. With the immersion of teen in the web every day, we as parents, family and friends need to understand the world they face.

According to the Pew Research Center, the adult perception of the internet is that most people (85%) are kind , the internet as it is experienced by teens is quite different, with one in five feeling that people are mostly unkind. As with any problem, the first step in fighting an issue is understanding it, and thanks to Column Five and Zone Alarm, I’m able to share with you today an infographic with some startling statistics and some actionable steps to take to help make this situation better. I hope you find it as worthwhile as I do.


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15 Statistics About Word of Mouth Marketing

Building relationships and influence online is really about influence and relationships. Word of Mouth Marketing is really the core of  what we started calling social marketing as technology allowed the online conversation amplify our ability to communicate our pleasure and displeasure with brands, services, and products.

Here’s a great infographic about the impact of word of mouth marketing created by our friends at ColumnFive for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association  (WOMMA) .

What are people saying about your brand?
Word of Mouth Marketing Statistics

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Please RSVP

The first time someone commented on one of my blog posts … oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH!!! Excitement and fear overwhelmed me for a number of reasons. First of all, someone other than my mother actually read my blog. That in itself seemed like a miracle. Then the fear hit. What if the comment isn’t good? What if someone questions what I wrote? I can “what if” all day.

That was about 4 years ago and today I have a few more family members that read my blog posts. I make a concerted effort to reply to each comment with something thoughtful combined with a thank you. When there are multiple comments I address each one individually.

A few things I’ve learned when someone comments on your blog post …

1. Always respond. It’s lovely when a blog comment is simply complimentary, but sometimes the commenter wants to ask a question, share information and/or tell you how they feel.

2. Answer your commenter’s questions, thank them for sharing additional information and address their feelings.

3. When comments are not all rainbows and kittens – stick to the facts and keep your emotions in out of your response. See Chris Beadling’s post on addressing flaming here.

Remember that blogging is social media. Treat it accordingly. Be social with the folks that comment on your blog – especially the ones that are complimentary. I read post a few days ago from Pushing Social called Blog Traffic Secret:  Woo the Groupies (written by Stanford ) that I keep going back to … the author suggested that you engage the commenters whenever possible and across other social media channels. The people that are commenting and tweeting and sharing your posts are “your groupies” and they want to engage with you.  He has a whole section on “Groupie Seduction” that you must read.

For new bloggers, it can seem like forever until you get that first comment (from someone other than mom) so engage the person making the comment right from the start, be gracious and always say thank you.

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